Solar panels generally have long life spans, they come with a warranty for about 25-30 years. After 30 years, some can produce less energy. When efficiency has declined a significant amount (which can take way longer than 30 years), then the solar panel is usually at the end of its life cycle and it is time to replace them. Solar panels also need to be replaced if they are damaged by weather or other conditions. This has lead to the creation of a recycling process strict
The Recycling Process
Solar panels don’t need to be thrown into a garbage dump – they can be recycled! They are made from several components, all of which are recyclable: silicon solar cells, metal framing, glass, wires, plastic, and plexiglass. Solar panels were previously recycled at general purpose glass recycling facilities, where the metal frames and glass parts were salvaged. But now, because of certain regulations, and because manufacturers have realized the importance of reusing/recycling the silicon and other metals, only specialty recycling companies can recycle solar panels. This is because the silicon cells are intricate, and the process by which the materials are separated requires advanced machinery to melt down the cells and recover the metals. And no need to worry, because of the rise in the solar industry, these specialty recycling companies continue to expand all over the U.S.
It’s All About Sustainability
As stated above, there is a specialized process for recycling solar panels. In order to protect the environment, solar cells manufacturers are required to follow certain recycling standards for handling the heavy metals (like cadmium and lead) contained in solar panels. But these specialized processes can also extract useful elements, or can bring new life to the panels themselves.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells within solar panels contain silicon, which can be extracted and reused. These cells also contain the elements gallium and indium, which are constantly being depleted from the environment. One way to recover these elements is by recycling solar panels. In fact, a 2016 study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates the recyclable materials in old solar modules will be worth $15 billion in recoverable assets by the year 2050.
Solar cell manufacturers can also use recycled parts to repair panels and sell them at a discounted price. This benefits the manufacturers, who can make money back on old panels, as well as consumers looking for a cheaper way to install solar panels. And the more people who switch to solar energy, the better for the environment!
Solar power installations are on the rise in the U.S. and understandably so: solar power can save people thousands on electricity, and the panels last for almost 30 years. While recycling options in the U.S. are currently limited, it is a growing business. Innovators are constantly making improvements to cut the cost of recycling panels and other solar equipment. However, because these panels last for so long, recycling or replacing them isn’t something most owners will have to worry about for a long time.
Are you interested in solar power for your home or business? If so, then Go Solar Energy can help you by comparing plans in your area and finding you the most affordable solar power module. You will not only save money by using our services, but we will help provide you with tips on how to make solar panels last much longer than their warranties. To get free quotes from an experienced agent, enter your zip code on the homepage, or to speak directly to one of our agents call (888) 290-3112.